Expert interviews: With artificial intelligence to logistics optimization

July 2, 2019
Expert interviews: With artificial intelligence to logistics optimization

Industry experts see immense opportunities in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) – especially for logistics.

In the video interview with Nicole Büttner, founder of the AI start-up DataQuotient, you will gain insights into the use of AI and how Seven Senders deals with AI.

You can also learn from  VDE expert Dr. Sebastian Hallensleben how AI works and where the trendsetting technology stands.

The topic of artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly important in the automation industry and industry experts attach great importance to technology: the next development step in industry 4.0. But what exactly does the term mean?

“The biggest AI misunderstanding is that it can replicate human intelligence. This is misleading,” explains Dr. Sebastian Hallensleben, who is in charge of artificial intelligence at the German Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (VDE). What exactly can AI do?

Good pattern recognition

Particularly good: Recognizing patterns  –  be it distinguishing cat pictures from dog pictures, recognizing faces or identifying winning moves in chess. Or to find connections between the operating data and the quality of the end products in a production line.

In the neural networks, which are modelled on the human brain, linked neurons can find computer-based solutions  –  with the help of algorithms.

“Algorithms can be imagined as cooking recipes for the computer,” explains the KI expert. In other words, instructions for the computer.

“They use data sets to recognize patterns and can then also make statements for new, previously unknown data. AI is unable to cope with complex tasks such as solving riddles.

AI in logistics: faster and better than humans

AI is playing an increasingly important role in logistics. Because two things are guaranteed here: It’s all about recognizing patterns and using them for planning and forecasting. In addition, there are large amounts of data in the supply chain.

From traffic volume to weather conditions, what products customers prefer  –  all this information is fed into the neural networks. This enables accurate forecasts to be made:

  • Which sweaters should be in stock when and where?

  • What is the ideal routing like?

  • When is the parcel expected to reach the customer?

“In principle, a human being could also find out, but in the end the human being is overwhelmed by the large amount of data. AI can relieve him of this work and is simply faster,” says Hallensleben.

AI at Seven Senders

The customers of Seven Senders –  e-commerce merchants that ship all over Europe –  have a particular problem: that the parcel arrives at the promised time.

Studies show that customers trust merchants they can trust to deliver at the promised time. If everything goes according to plan, the customer orders again.

Seven Senders builds the algorithms with the start-up DataQuotient. For this purpose, the data of the Europe-wide shipments are collected and evaluated.

In this way, the delivery platform can not only connect merchants with local delivery services, but also provides them with the exact arrival time of the parcels in the future. In this way, merchants will be able to keep their shipping promise even better in other European countries and use their performance as an opportunity for differentiation for a competitive advantage.‍

“Bring a spirit of experimentation!” – A video interview with Nicole Büttner


Germany at the tail end? A prejudice!

Dr. Sebastian Hallensleben does not confirm that Germany is lagging behind in the development of AI, as is often proclaimed. “You have to look at it in a differentiated way. Because there are very different AI models:

“In terms of AI, which is based on large amounts of data, countries like China are well developed,” says the VDE AI expert. “But in the AI areas that have to deal with little data, we are quite competitive in Germany.”

This is because Germany’s data protection regulations are strict – compared to those in China, for example  –  so that often only small quantities are available. The situation is similar for data from rare but serious accidents. But even in this case, AI can be very effective.

With a cool head to artificial intelligence

Hallensleben, like AI start-up founder Nicole Büttner recommends that companies that want to take the step into neural networks take the first step.

They should regard technology as a tool – with strengths and weaknesses. Above all, they don’t need to be afraid of AI. This is what still prevails in many people’s minds. “A long time ago, people feared that new technology could take away their jobs,” he says. And that also happened. But: “New – often better – jobs have been created for this.”

Our interview partners

Nicole Büttner: The founder of the consulting firm and expert platform DataQuotient Nicole Büttner and her team advise companies that want to use artificial intelligence for their business models. Büttner studied economics at the University of St. Gallen, the Stockholm School of Economics and Stanford University. She has also made a name for herself as a speaker on AI and Data Analytics. She is also a politically active alumnus of the University of St. Gallen.
Web link:

Dr. Sebastian Hallensleben is portfolio manager for digitisation and AI at VDE – Verband der Elektrotechnik, Elektronik, Informationstechnik e.V., one of the largest scientific and technical associations in Europe. He heads the CEN-CENELEC AI Focus Group at EU level in a double leadership with France and the IEC SEG 10 “Ethics in Autonomous and Artificial Intelligence Applications” in a similar constellation with China.